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Cray Supercomputer Furniture

Published 30 December 2017

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Cray Supercomputers are like the Rolling Stone rock stars of the 1970s and 1980s. Everybody knows the name and they are worth a fortune. Cray is still around but it doesn't carry the same sex appeal of days gone by. We have put together some photos of these beautiful machines in their natural habitat to highlight their industrial design features and to show you that they were beautiful peices of furniture as well.

Cray Supercomputers are like the Rolling Stone rock stars of the 1970s and 1980s. Everybody knows the name and they are worth a fortune. Cray is still around but it doesn't carry the same sex appeal of days gone by. Cooling was an enormous breakthrough in managing such power.

Did you know that the seats around the superstructure were usable but reportedly quite firm? One quote puts these padded seats as an inverse conversation pit. The seats housed the massive cooling system required to keep the beast running.

 

Cray Supercomputer research center
Cray 1-S/2200 at the Glenn Research Center, circa 1982 [source]

Cray Supercomputer in beautiful Burgundy furniture style
Cray 1-S/2200 at the Glenn Research Center, circa 1982 [source]

Cray Supercomputer in super computer blue
Cray SSD at the Lewis Research Center, circa 1989 [source]

History Lost

Although we have wonderfully preserved physical machines in many museums around the world, I found it disturbing that no one has bothered to save a copy of the operating system. Each system was a multi-million dollar endeavor and I expect that the operating system code was probably tuned for each build and configuration. One version of the OS is likely not to have worked on another computer.

I finally understand the true reason for bit.savers and MAME. Hardware has become easy and relatively cheap to emulate. Software on the other hand only is more of a work of art with its function, quirks and bugs. You can not go back and reverse engineer the proprietary software and keep the historical authenticity.

 

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